From Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai

On 28 May 2014 by From elephants to kangaroos

Arrived at the Thai border by boat from Laos, in the city of Chiang Khong, I quickly headed to the next destination : Chiang Rai. We hear a lot about this city for its white temple, therefore as it’s on my way, it’s good to go take a look at it.

IMG_5098After have rented one of my favorite motobike for the day, I’m off for the day, starting with the Black House, also known as Baan If Dum. This place was created by Tawan Duchanee, Thai painter if I don’t say stupid things. Well, found it is already not really easy… Once there, I face a series of temples and rather strange black buildings (admittedly) , with very surprising objects such as skulls / bones / statues inside, staggered seats, animal skins like crocodiles or snakes kind, animals and carts lying in the “garden”, flying saucers in the middle of all this… Curious mixture in this place that is quiet despite all this. This is quite confusing, so I still do not know if I like it or not. But it is very interesting to find out, just for the offbeat side of the place which is not expected.

IMG_5154Then I went lost in the mountains while riding without a true direction , or by following more or less an Akha village (ethnic minority in the north) . So here I am completely lost , alone in the middle of nowhere, with really nice views and nature in front of my eyes. Between the rivers , the mountains, the locals who smile at me, the way is a super nice road and time flies. On approaching the village, I find myself in front of paddy fields, or at least cultures floors, which are beautiful. I met some locals who invited me in their home to drink water and eat leetchis. However I was a little disappointed to see that after a few minutes of simple sharing with these Akha people, women have released all tourist souvenirs so that I can buy them things , I admit that it spoiled me a little time and so I left soon after .

IMG_5188After forgetting we were driving on the left in Thailand that has caused me a scare on mountain roads on and off to the city, so I headed to the famous white temple. It was closed as I arrived too late but I was still able to observe from the outside (and anyway you can not really go inside since the earthquake but I would have liked to see the details closer , especially those hands entwined). The temple remains beautiful , imposing, it shines with the sun reflecting off the mirrors and other details of the temple. A detour is worth a look if you ‘re in the area !

The next day, I went to Chiang Mai where you can shine for multiple visits, tours and courses. Just arrived in town, I immediately book my stay at the elephant camp (which I will talk in another article), but I have to wait two days before I can go, so it’s an opportunity to discover this city. I arrived on Sunday in Chiang Mai and this is the day of street market , big market spread over a dozen streets where you can buy souvenirs, food and more. The market is quite impressive , the prices very low and there are pretty things. As for the food part , you have something to delight your taste with multiple choice of local dishes , barbecues, sushi , snacks and so on ! We had a lot of mix of food with the group of travelers with whom I shared dinner.

IMG_6022 - CopieThe next morning I go to the temple Sri Suphan having heard we can practice meditation with monks. Unluckily , the courses are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and today is Monday . But a nice monk Fowat comes to me when I arrived and offered me a private session of introduction to meditation, even better! So we went for 1:30 to discuss the Buddhist religion, its history , its life as a monk. For the record, you should know that Fowat is Vietnamese but he decided to come to Thailand to practice more intensely Buddhism. Following our extremely interesting discussion that opened my eyes to many things and through which I learned a lot of “sayings” that I keep in mind and that sometimes helps me to move forward in a situation, we then practiced the sitting meditation. You can practice meditation while sitting, standing, lying down or walking. But we stuck to learn the 1st one during 30 minutes. IMG_6028The principle of meditation is simple, you have to sit right leg over the left leg, right hand on the left hand, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Yes, on paper it’s pretty simple but in reality it is quite complex to meditate. The whole purpose of meditation is to empty your mind, absolutely not moving ever, which is very difficult. That being said, after 30 minutes of it, even though I was not able to completely empty my mind, I already feel a real calm in me, a kind of very nice zen. It is decided , I will train my side and continue to learn !
The rest of my day is pretty quiet, I wander through the streets of the city (and it is a fairly complex city, it is very hard to know where you are) , I meet local street corners, I visit major temples, I meet Luckyi which will prove to be a real lucky man 2 days later, and I also met at the guesthouse Marielle with who after 5 minutes of discussion, we decide to go to Pai together after my camp elephants!

I will have to return to Chiang Mai because it is a city “hub” in the north. I’ll come back one evening after my elephant camp and I should also be board before heading south. Maybe I will do a cooking class (I heard about Sammy’s Organic) and perhaps again I see the monk Fowat. For sure I will return to see Luckyi . Meanwhile, the next 2 days are going to be at the Elephant Nature Park (thank you for the birthday gift to my parents!) .

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